After Advent…Epiphany, Wise Men’s Obedience Speaks to Us

Each year Western Christians celebrate January 6 as Epiphany. It commemorates the arrival of the Magi to worship Jesus. For the last several days I have been blogging on the arrival of the Magi and what their story has to say to us today.

The heart of their visit to Jesus’ family was one of worship and obedience. Obedience brought protection for Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Magi against the evil intent that God knew was in Herod’s heart. The Magi were obedient to follow the message in their dream to not return to Herod. Joseph was again visited by an angel and told to take Mary and baby Jesus and go to Egypt. He was obedient and packed them up and left immediately. The Magi returning home and Joseph took his young family to Egypt and eventually to Nazareth after Herod’s death. This shows God’s omniscient power over current threatening events and prophecies given hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 2:12-15 “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Where is God calling you to be obedient? Is He directing you to share, give, comfort, lend a helping hand, provide care or listen with a loving heart? Our obedience is important and loved by God. It is an attribute God desires for our lives and shows our love and respect for Him in a very real and tangible way. When I think on the priority God places on obedience, my thoughts go to 1 Samuel 15:22. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,  and to listen than the fat of rams.” God desires that we are obedient and with that obedience comes blessing. The Magi were blessed with seeing the child and not giving further help to the evil of Herod. Mary and Joseph were blessed by continued protection from harm and provision through the gifts of the Magi. All of their acts of obedience brought glory to God and His plan for mankind.

Have you ever considered how your obedience is a tool for God to use in the lives of others? Your obedience, like that of Joseph, Mary and the Wise Men can and will be used by God to bless others. Meditate today on the effects of your obedience to God and His Word. 1 John 5:3-4 gives us a guide by which we can frame our obedience. It is specific and direct- not always easy but true. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Walk in faithful obedience to God’s Word and His Son and see how God blesses and multiplies your effect upon others for Him.

Linda

After Advent… What Gifts did you bring to Him?

After the Wise Men met with King Herod and got further directions on where to find this child born ‘king of the Jews’, they proceeded to Bethlehem. Matthew 2:9-12 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”

Here we see the provision, protection and love God has for His Son who was now on earth. We know the Magi did not visit on the night of Jesus’ birth as in verse 2 we were told they came to see Herod after Jesus’ birth. Also there is no mention of a stable or animals but a house. (When visiting Bethlehem, guides took us to a house believed to be where Mary and Joseph lived during this time period. It is very near to the stable cave and had several rooms where they could have lived comfortably.) The Magi followed the Star and found where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were living. The gifts they presented to them were very costly and befitting a king. We see God’s Sovereignty in the fact that He warned the kings not to go back to Herod. God knew what was in Herod’s heart and protected His Son.

As you prepared for Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth, what gifts did you present to Him? Did they include love, worship, devotion, service, monies to be used for His work, passion for telling others about Him, or time to spend in God’s Word studying to learn more about Him? Any and all of these gifts are desired by God and yet in Micah 6:8 He tell us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” God desires our hearts be aligned with Him so that we can act justly towards others, be merciful in love towards others and ourselves and walk daily with humility. Let these be your gifts to the Savior this New Year.

Linda

After Advent…Wise Men, what a story they have!

Our nativity scenes with the shepherds and Wiseman all present at Jesus’ birth are not actually accurate. The shepherds received the message from the host of angels and went in search of Jesus the night of his birth. Luke 2. However, the wise men did not appear for about 2 years after Jesus’ birth. They saw the star announcing his birth, studied what this star could mean and then decided to follow it. The journey from Persia would have taken months. Their story is recorded in Matthew 2:1-8.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

Our story has several important players that impacted Joseph, Mary and Jesus. Herod also known as Herod the Great was an evil king who was a controlling, power hungry, non-Jew put in power by the Roman Senate in 40, B.C. He was known to have murdered his wife, his three sons, his brother-in-law and many others. He was ruthless and would do anything to protect his reign. There were the Wise men who were learned scholars seeking truth and this new king who’s birth was announced in the stars. And there were the Jewish scholars who served Herod who knew the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah King. The arrival of the Magi, or Wise Men, in Jerusalem would have created quite a stir and their message was one to put fear into jealous Herod’s mind and heart.

I have always wondered why Herod did not send soldier right then to seek out this ‘king’ but his hesitancy was God’s provision to protect Mary, Joseph and young Jesus. It allowed the Wise Men to find Jesus, worship him and present him with gifts. It allowed time for the young family to escape Herod’s grasp and for the Wise Men, we’ll see, to not be involved with evil Herod’s plans.

Where do you see God’s providential care in your life? Has He rescued, provided or comforted you in some way in 2021? I can only imagine the story the Wise Men had to tell when they returned home about the child king who God protected. What story do you have to tell about God’s provision? It is yours to proclaim and is irrefutable proof of God’s hand in your life. Speak up about God and His loving care for you.

Linda

Aftermath: Obedience Brought Escape and Blessings

Obedience brought protection for Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Magi against the evil intent that God knew was in Herod’s heart. The Magi were obedient to follow the message in their dream to not return to Herod. Joseph was again visited by an angel and told to take Mary and baby Jesus and go to Egypt. He was obedient and packed them up and left immediately. The Magi returning home and Joseph taking his young family to Egypt and eventually Nazareth shows God’s omniscient power over current threatening events and in fulfilling prophecies given hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.

Matthew 2:12-15 “And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Where is God calling you to be obedient? Is He directing you to share, give, comfort, lend a helping hand, provide care or listen with a loving heart? Our obedience is important and loved by God. It is an attribute God desires for our lives and shows our love and respect for Him in a very real and tangible way. When I think on the priority God places on obedience, my thoughts go to 1 Samuel 15:22. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,  and to listen than the fat of rams.” God desires that we are obedient and with that obedience comes blessing. The Magi were blessed with seeing the child and not giving further help to the evil of Herod. Mary and Joseph were blessed by continued protection from harm and provision through the gifts of the Magi. All of their acts of obedience brought glory to God and His plan for mankind.

Have you ever considered how your obedience is a tool for God to use in the lives of others? Your obedience, like that of Joseph, Mary and the Wise Men can and will be used by God to bless others. Meditate today on the effects of your obedience to God and His Word. 1 John 5:3-4 gives us a guide by which frame our obedience. It is specific and direct- not always easy but true. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” Walk in faithful obedience to God’s Word and His Son and see how God blesses and multiplies your effect upon others for Him.

Linda

Aftermath Continues- Gifts fit for a King!

After the Wise Men met with King Herod and got further directions on where to find this possible child born ‘king of the Jews’, they proceeded to Bethlehem. Matthew 2:9-12 “After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”

Here we see the provision, protection and love God has for His Son who is now on earth. We know the Magi did not visit on the night of Jesus’ birth as in verse 2 we were told they came to see Herod after Jesus’ birth. Also there is no mention of a stable or animals but a house. (When visiting Bethlehem, guides took us to a house believed to be where Mary and Joseph lived during this time period. It is very near to the stable cave and had several rooms where they could have lived comfortably.) The Magi followed the Star and found where Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus were living. The gifts they presented to them were very costly and befitting a king. We see God’s Sovereignty in the fact that He warned the kings not to go back to Herod. God knew what was in Herod’s heart and protected His Son.

Have you experienced the provision, protection and love of God during this pandemic year of 2020? I know I have. God has provided comfort and connection that I so desperately crave during these times of isolation. He has protected me from the virus and kept me in good health. I have felt His love through His Word and the kindness of others. God loves each of us and reaches down to touch us in ways we recognize and then some we don’t. Reflect as we end this year on ways God has met your needs and thank Him for His provision.

Linda

Advent Aftermath -Wise Men and their pursuit of the Star

Matthew 2:1 clearly states that the encounter of the Wise men with King Herod happened after the birth of Jesus. So our story continues….

Matthew 2:1-8 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

When was the last time you went in search of something? Maybe you were looking for your keys, a particular piece of clothing, a special ingredient, an appliance or even a certain type of car? Did you make a plan for your search or have to drive from place to place? Maybe you called ahead or researched it on the Internet. In any case, it took time to search and you were looking forward to finding it. The Wise Men were looking forward to finding the babe, king of the Jews, so they could worship Him. Here are some thoughts about them and their journey. The Wise Men were from the east so that would be in the direction of Persia, Babylon or the Orient. They has been students of astrology if they were studying the stars enough to find the star phenomena that occurred at this time in history. Scholars believe it was a conjunction of planets that came together and then moved in retrograde probably Saturn and Jupiter. We had a similar occurrence just this last week that is very rare as the last time it occurred was in 1220. They were seeking the one born ‘king of the Jews’. This would indicate that they were gentiles. If they had been Jewish, they would have said our king and named him as Messiah. They were also seekers of truth as they had seen the star, been motivated to follow it and traveled hundreds of miles by caravan in pursuit of this ‘king’. These Magi or Kings themselves must have been men of means to be able to take the time and have all the necessary provisions-camels, men, money for this lengthy trip.

What would you do if you were the ruler of a country and someone came and asked where the new king was? We learn several things, not very good either, about King Herod from his words and actions with Wise Men. He was curious about the Wise Men, visiting dignitaries, and their journey. Visitors from the east were probably not an every day occurrence and created a bit of a stir. When Herod heard about their quest to find the ‘new born king’ scripture describes him as disturbed, troubled and all Jerusalem too. Herod was a very powerful tyrannical ruler who was a supreme builder. He shows himself here to be crafty and cunning. Herod told the Wise Men privately what his scholars had said about where the Messiah would be born and suggested they continue their search for this child. I’m sure he did not want it publicly known that there was a ‘new born king’ somewhere that might be the long awaited Messiah, hence the private audience. He asked them to come back and tell him when they found the child so he could worship him too. We learn later this was a crafty lie as he had no intention of sharing his throne with anyone.

What does this teach us about God? For one, all the universe awaited the birth of the Messiah and God used the heavens to declare his arrival. The prophecy in Numbers 24:17 speaks of a star in relation to a new king, “I see him, but not here and now.  I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob;
    a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the heads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.”
Since the king here was one that would be powerful and crush others, I’m sure this is yet another reason Herod feared a new king and wanted him gone. Another thought is that God can and does use all kinds of people to do His work. Lowly Mary and Joseph, elderly Zachariah and Elizabeth, Anna and Simeon were just ordinary people God used in mighty ways. Here God shows us He can and does use unbelievers to accomplish His plans. Their involvement in the coming of the Savior reminds us that Jesus came to save all people.

Blessings as you ponder anew the arrival of the Wise Men and their seeking hearts.

Linda

I would recommend the video The Star of Bethlehem produced by Stephen McEveely. You can look it up on their website at http://www.bethlehemstar.net It is fascinating and really faith confirming about how all the universe proclaims the arrival of God’s Son.

Where did Jesus go? Escaped to Egypt, just as God promised

After the visit of the Wise Men to see Herod, it was only a matter of time before Herod discovered Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  The Wise Men did not return to Herod and tell  where they had found Jesus,  but listened to God’s warning and left the country another way.  Matthew 2:13-18  describes what happened next.

egypt“When they had gone (the Wise Men), an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”    God knew the inquiry of the wise men would stir up jealousy and hatred in Herod, so He sent an angel.  Like before when the angel appeared to Joseph, he was obedient and did not question the wisdom of God.   He took his little family south to Egypt and remained there and waited for further direction from God.

Herod, in the meantime, did not wait to act when he discovered the wise men did not return to tell him of the new king.  He knew they had found him and had slipped away.

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,  weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children  and refusing to be comforted,  because they are no more.”  

Leaving a trail of blood, hatred and jealousy is Herod’s legacy.  God knew this would happen and foretold both the fleeing to Egypt and the destruction of innocent lives hundred’s of years beforehand.   Jesus came to fulfill all prophecies concerning Messiah and He did.

Where do you see God in this portion of the story?   Certainly we see God’s foreknowledge of events, His care for Mary, Joseph and Jesus,  His thwarting of Herod, His messaging through an angelic being, His provision of funds for the trip from the Magi’s gifts, His protection…. God showed his fatherly care of this new family and of Jesus’ mission for all mankind.   God is our heavenly Father.  He is the father to all who God-Is-Our-Fatherbelieve in Jesus, His Son.  He gives us His Spirit, adopts us into His family and makes us His children.  He speaks to us through His Word and we can speak to Him through prayer.  God is always good, wise and loving.  He loves and protects, cares, trains and disciplines His children.  As a good Father, God gave us His Word, Sent His Son and then His Holy Spirit to help us live lives pleasing to Him.     John 14:26  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  

May you be blessed today as you realize anew the love of your heavenly Father.  He cares for you as no one else can.

Linda

Wise men still seek Him

Today’s portion of the Christmas Story is one filled with wonder as we consider our All Wise God.  Herod was an evil, jealous king who would do anything to protect his kingship.

wise menNow after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,  saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way.  Matthew 2:1-9

Herod did not know of Jesus’ birth.  Since the Magi had traveled from the east starting when they saw the Bethlehem Star in the sky when Jesus was born,  their arrival could have been 1-2 years after Jesus’ birth.  It would have taken considerable time to come from the east, perhaps Persia.  It would have been customary to come to the current king to inquire of this new baby king-where he was. They probably thought Herod, the current king, would surely know where this baby was, however, He did not.   So they continued their journey….. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with gold-frankincense-and-myrrhMary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  The gifts they brought were fitting for a king:  gold, incense and myrrh.    The myrrh was presented to Jesus at this birth and was also given to him at the crucifixion as it was a pain reliever.  Jesus refused to dull his pain by taking any (Mark 15:23).   Then the disciples used a mixture of spices and myrrh to prepare His body for burial (John 19:39).  The wise men had followed the star for hundreds of miles, knew that God was directing them towards the new king and undoubtedly realized the greed and jealousy that Herod possessed.  Herod had listened to them but had not been eager to come with them even the short distance to Bethlehem.  He let them do the finding so then he could take care of this new rival king.   So…when God warned, they listened and acted.  12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

wise GodGod is wiseHe is not simply all-knowing.  He uses his knowledge to do exactly what is right.  God’s Word is full of His wisdom.  Both His plan of redemption which sent Jesus and His creation are perfectly wise.  All wisdom comes form God.  Job 12:13 ““To God belong wisdom and power;  counsel and understanding are his.”   These traveling Magi or wise men came seeking the Savior.  God in His wisdom led them to come at just the right time and to the exact place He had chosen.  God protected both the men and Jesus’ family from evil Herod who He knew would seek to kill the babe.  The wise men were truly wise as they listened to God.

What about you?  Do you seek to know God and be filled with His wisdom that is in His Word?  Do you have listening hears to hear God’s wisdom when He gives it to you in prayer or through His Word?   Through faith in Jesus we can know God and understand the wise God we serve.  Ephesians 1:7-8  In him(Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished ephesians 1 8on us. With all wisdom and understanding,    Knowing Jesus opens up the wisdom of God to believers so  we can read His Word with understanding, seek to know Him better and live a life filled with godly wisdom.  Thank you Jesus.

Linda